Certification


Medical Writing Certification Commission
Why Certification?
How is Certification Different than a Certificate?
Funding the Initiative
The Testing Agency

Outline of the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA’s)
Examination Item Writing
Timeline Highlights


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Medical Writing Certification Commission    (top)
AMWA established the Medical Writing Certification Commission to initiate, evaluate, maintain, and oversee the credentialing program for medical writers. The Commission seeks to represent the diversity that exists within the profession and serve as a voice for stakeholders who have an interest in maintaining high standards in medical writing. The Commission is charged with overseeing matters related to certification of medical writers; creating processes for application, examination, recertification, and appeals; and recommending certification policies and ongoing improvements to the certification process. Certification will be open to medical writers worldwide and will not be limited to AMWA members.



Why Certification?   (top)
The certification effort is extremely important for AMWA and the medical writing profession. AMWA has embarked on this process in a deliberate and evidence-based way, seeking input from a broad range of individuals. Not only will the survey results help AMWA improve its educational offerings, but the results will have broader implications as well. By engaging practitioners across the profession to help define what is considered an essential foundation to professional excellence, we will strengthen the profession and help ensure clarity around medical writing knowledge, skills, and abilities for medical writers of the future.

The following links provide more information about the AMWA Certification Initiative.

  
Funding the Initiative   (top)
The AMWA Board of Directors approved the use of funds from reserve accounts to support the activities of the Certification Commission. Many discussions occurred among AMWA leadership over the years before the decision to invest in the development of a certification program was made. AMWA leadership reviewed research, gathered by a certification task force, on best practices in certification program and test development, as well as information on existing programs of other organizations allied with our profession (technical writing, continuing education, regulatory writing, etc.).



The Testing Agency   (top)
Once the decision was made to pursue certification, AMWA contracted with an experienced testing agency, Schroeder Measurement Technologies, Inc. (SMT), after sending out a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) to potential agencies. A leading international exam development company, SMT offers a wide range of examination and related support services to organizations that sponsor certification and licensing programs. SMT is guiding AMWA in the process of developing certification policies and procedures that adhere to established, legally defensible guidelines and certification best practices.



Outline of the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA’s)   (top)
In 2012, Commission members assembled a set of profession-related materials and resources, including material from AMWA’s workshops and the competency model developed by the Drug Information Association (DIA) Medical Writing Special Interest Area Community, to help with development of an outline of the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) of competent medical writers. A Job Analysis Panel was formed and met with SMT in March 2012 for 2 days to create a final KSA outline. This panel deliberated about the key domains of a medical writer's competencies, as well as the component KSA elements comprising each domain. The draft outline was then reviewed by additional volunteer AMWA members for additional feedback.


To learn whether the concepts developed by the panel reflected the experience of medical writers at large (including, but not limited to, AMWA members), the Job Analysis Panel worked closely with SMT during spring 2012 to create an online survey for the medical writing community. In addition to feedback on the KSAs, the survey requested demographic and professional information about respondents. The job analysis survey is a standard tool used in creating a certification examination because it can help establish a uniform set of professional criteria or expectations against which test content can be developed. Such a survey is designed to evaluate the appropriateness of the KSAs identified by asking respondents the degree to which the set of KSAs are important in their jobs. The results of a job analysis survey establish a foundation for the examination program by giving the exam developers direction regarding content. Survey results also provide an all-important link between assessment and practice, as well as provide legal defensibility for the test content.

The certification effort is extremely important for AMWA and the medical writing profession. AMWA has embarked on this process in a deliberate and evidence-based way, seeking input from a broad range of individuals. Not only will the survey results help AMWA improve its educational offerings, but the results will have broader implications as well. By engaging practitioners across the profession to help define what is considered an essential foundation to professional excellence, we will strengthen the profession and help ensure clarity around medical writing knowledge, skills, and abilities for medical writers of the future.


Examination Item Writing    (top)
Using the information from the survey, the Commission, with guidance from SMT, developed an outline for the examination and determined the relative weighting of elements within it. The formulation of actual test questions requires input from a diverse group of subject-matter experts. SMT provides extensive training to subject-matter experts on how to construct unambiguous test questions that measure relevant concepts and reflect competent day-to-day practice. Generating questions that link back to the examination content outline will help ensure that all questions are fair (ie, relate to practice) and relevant (ie, are important to practice). The first item-writing session took place in May 2013, and another will occur in fall 2013.



Timeline Highlights    (top)
2011: Certification Commission established by AMWA’s Board of Directors.
2012: AMWA launched the job analysis survey of the work of medical writers. This landmark study played an integral role in defining the scope of practice for medical writers, and the results will be a vital resource for AMWA’s development of a medical writer’s certification examination.
2013: Two meetings are scheduled to begin examination item writing, building a pool of validated items.
2014: A manual will be launched to help people who are interested in pursuing certification to prepare; the test form will be reviewed for quality assurance.
2015: The first examination administration will occur.